Take Risks: Breaking The ‘Yappie’ Gene

So, if you don’t already know what Yappie stands for, it is defined as “young Asian professionals who live the yuppie lifestyle”. Coined neatly by Wong Fu Productions, a YouTube channel best known for their numerous short films and sketches on topics like love, romance and it’s intertwining fate of loss, through the lenses of the ‘Asian American experience’.

With that term in mind, are we just naturally inclined to succumb to our innate nature as the ‘typical Asian’ in our obsession with materialism and financial success, which may or may not revolve around having a continental car, a decent condo, and a high-paying job that secures all the aforementioned assets? Or is there something more, beyond the demands of society, that we can achieve in our lives?

“Be a Doctor, a Lawyer, or an Engineer,” they said. “A high-paying job as a doctor or lawyer has traditionally been the career path..

“Don’t study the Arts, I mean think about it, what is Literature going to help you with in your career?” “The music industry is not safe… You will struggle with your bills if you become an Artist!”

If we capitulate ourselves to the pressure that society has on us, where is the God-given individuality that is inherent in our very nature? The very idea, and sheer coincidence, that our fingerprints are one-of-a-kind presupposes a more cosmic approach to this: that we are not birthed to blindly conform to whatever the world thinks what is ‘best’ that we should be doing. But instead, we could perhaps take calculated risks to chase after the passions in our hearts, the very essence of life that drives the ’emotional human’ in us from the inside, meticulously carving and shaping to who we truly are. (And surely we are not meant to be subjected to the whims and fancies of society, to be molded and beaten, in all rigidity, into what they think is the best or great for us.)

While a discernible amount of the liberal pursuit of our passions is markedly evident in society today, we are still blindly influenced to follow in the footsteps of our economy – the fast-paced, unrelenting first-class economy that accepts, with strict pleasure, only the crème de la crème of the major population. And it is in this aspect, the necessity to be at the very top of the food chain supersedes every other area of our lives, most apparently seen in our conscious dismissal or the abandonment of our individuality. As such, this supposed ‘need’ alone, serves as a more than compelling reason to justify in conclusion, though rather irrationally, that self-preservation takes precedence over all other considerations. But the thing is, we don’t’ have to be the very best, the apex predator of the economic food-chain to be bringing a decent bag of gold home – and that is the truth right there.

Yet, the appalling Yappie Gene still lives in a good majority of us. For whatever reason though. While seemingly pervading in our society innocuously, it is insidious in its nature. Through the elements of competition, plaguing us from the very beginning of our still-growing roots in our youths, instilling the necessity for being top-tier, or the A-grader player. The “bell-curve” system inadvertently places unregulated pressure on students, and their frantic, “Yappie generation” parents as well, because it levels the playing ground for bright and smart students who are already doing so great at all these little ‘markers’ of the education system. Today, being “a little above average” is just not “good enough” now.

Have we learnt nothing at all from school, who preaches about smart education and meaningful phase of life, other than how a Complex Numbers question should be solved and expressed in clear terms? Or is the Higgs-Boson Particle helpful and relevant to everyone else except to those who are actually called to the Particle Physics Department of the Everyone Else Is A Genius University? What has History taught our children, other than to score “points” on the rubrics of examinations, about the various struggles and the oppressions of our ancestors and how we should aspire to not repeat the past? No, we have learnt nothing at all, unless we are being influentially led to our passions and interests all while journeying through a common phase of life – and with that, take risks, many risks, to pursue these interests. And if they are truly inspired and dedicated to their very core, pushed to the very end of road, and yet never backing down just because it is tough, then I say: lesson learnt, risk taken.

Engineering was never my thing. And if I had chosen to take Engineering by my Parent’s unquestioning will (as per the standard of generally most, if not all, Asian parenting model), I would probably hate my time studying something that I have no passion for (while still excelling at it). No, I will definitely hate my time there, not that it is “old boring Engineering” but because it is not what I want to do. Given the liberal autonomy to decide our own fate, go!

Worthy or not to take the risk to ‘jump’, you are the sole author of your own destiny. Do not let your parents (however strict they may be), nor your teachers (however convincing), or your peers (however pressured) or society (however, you know, compelled) push you and drives you to fit into a certain mold that is so-called “beneficial” or “financially successful”. Because clearly, at the very end of the day, in your final few breaths as you take a good look at your very last moment of life, nobody wants to say, “Oh f***, Engineering was a monumental waste. Should have f***ing took Literature. Why, God. Why?”

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A Chasing After The Wind

The fear and self-fulfiling prophecy of evolving into a rat-race society unwittingly drove us closer towards that reality – and we’ve been so de-sensitised to the point of normalcy that this just seems ‘correct’ and rightful. Are we living our lives in the purposeless pursuit of materialistic wealth? Are our independent actions and thoughts being fed to us since a very young age, cultivated into this unmalleable mould we find it unnatural to resist and reject?

Many a times, it is almost unnatural (and somewhat consequential) for us to even take a quick breath, slow down and find stillness in such an unforgivingly fast-paced society. As if a punishable crime, a good number of us choose to completely avoid all sense of this issue: accepting and acknowledging the rat race as status quo.

But the greater question lies here: has our individuality been reduced to such nihilistic brackets of bureaucratic slavery? Driven only to serve an aim, more political than personal, to find that at the end of the day, we have achieved nothing more than a mere chasing of wind. Can we be justified otherwise that, beyond the shallow surface of structural madness, we draw no resemblance to such a pitiful, cyclical state of affairs?

We have grown in accustom to this culture of ambition and the mindless chasing of goals – regardless of the bracket of society we somehow belong to. And there is hardly a foreseeable conclusion to the hunt – for “Life is first boredom, then fear. Whether or not we use it, it goes..” Starkly accurate, and quite prevalent in the world we live in today, are we contented and truly convinced, to allow our consciousness and independent thoughts to lay waste and casually slide into abeyance, all to conform to stifling typicalities? Even if the truth of the matter is as such, as messed up as it is, where the normalcy of the rat-race is a habitual occurrence, the seeming need to fit into the mould barely justifies the abandoning of the voice of our identity.

And even as we are coupled with good purpose and all intent to better ourselves, or the world, can our pursuit in the rat-race be justified then? Or is it just another permutation  of the problem to steer us away from the unabashed truth, and the actuality of the decadence of our society, that is staring straight back at us?

Crush

All I ever think about is you, you got me hypnotized, so mesmerized.” – David Archuleta, Crush

She’s got a dazzling pair of eyes, a spectacular smile that never seems to run out of joy, and a pure heart for people, constantly embodying selfless in serving and lifting people up to their potential. She’s amazing.

We’ve all got a crush. An eye-candy, in contemporary-speak, perhaps. And we are just so captivated by them, be it in physical attraction, or their actions – we’ve been so enthralled by them.

For me, she’s got me by her eyes. Those magical, sweet-looking, and alluring eyes. Though not the best, if honesty is anything at all, she captivates me nonetheless, leaving me a hapless victim, succumbed to my own devices of being lovesick.

I sometimes wonder, in all pragmatic possibilities, how things will pan out. Scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes, personally cooked into perfection in the early Sunday mornings and served to you on a platter. An non-repetitive bouquet of flowers every month on our anniversary day, ordered and delivered to my one and only love. Even better, as we read the Bible in our own personal space, we can gently touch the fingertips of one another in love, remaining thankful of how privilege it is to be blessed by the Lord.

But hey, when reality knocks and you’re being sent back to the present, don’t forget to get on with your life. Your school assignments, upcoming tests and examinations and maybe your final few confirmations of a project for work. Dreams are dreams unless we take action. Just like our crushes, if we don’t act on those feelings and make the first move (guy and girl alike), we’ll never have the slightest opportunity to reach our dreams.

Her smile, though. I just can’t seem to let go…

Dreams

We’ve all had quixotic dreams about about our future – the perfectly constructed world, wrapped delicately in idealistic notions of our heart’s desires. Sometimes in our unguarded slumber, we stumble upon our subconscious delusions of grandeur. And perhaps, a more peculiar, yet down to earth encounter with such ideals are found in our daily spurs of ‘zoning out’ into our imaginations. As we soar onwards in struggling attempts to live up to our projected ideals, sometimes it is inevitable that we fall flat on our expectations. It is not that we are inadequate, or that we’re any less than we think we are. Purely a disillusionment from our perfectly constructed ideals, reality sets-in in the most practical manner. And as much as we want to live a life full of expectancy of the good and well to do, we must first and foremost understand our current position in society and chart our desired path and drive full speed towards that. Dreams are, more often than not, merely a desire for the unattainable. But, of course, as we provide fuel for our aspirations and put in the necessary effort towards them, sometimes the impossible may well be slightly achievable.

What are dreams then, unless to serve as a momentary hindrance to our God-forbid, destiny of great potential?

Abortion: Where Does The Murder Instinct Come From?

I, for one, respect those who believe with all their hearts and conscience that there are no circumstances under which any abortion should ever be available.” – Hillary Clinton

Whether you are a pro-life or a pro-choice supporter, it does not change the matter of fact that abortion is the deliberate attempt, with intent, to take away the life of an unborn child. I believe that nobody else, except the mother, can decide whether she still wants to bring the child to this world or not. Do our circumstances justify the action by which we deliberately deny a child of his/her life in this world to come?

A mother’s duty is to take care of her children. And sometimes, “part of caring for children is knowing when it’s not a good idea to bring them into the world.” Katha Pollitt’s words not only makes perfect, pragmatic sense on one hand, but it also reflects the society in which we live in today – the society that grants us autonomy and right over the lives of our unborn child, that we determine whether or not they are fit for society and vice versa. Is this how our generation should be educated on? That because of some deformity or damage on the unborn kid, we get to play gods on our own right and decide the fate of our child? That if society is as underwhelming and very much broken, as we deem it to be for our child, are we to determine whether or not he/her gets to live?

In the economic aspect of things, some people would deem their socio-economic standing in society to be a less-than-deserving opportunity for the child to be born into. That they would be doing this unborn child a disfavour should he/her be a member of this world. But is it really the case? Can our circumstances justify the act which resonates killing and the murdering of another human being? That, a mother has the power to decide whether or not she wants to deliberate end the life of her own flesh and blood?

The gravity of abortion is highly misunderstood in today’s context. With rapid developments in technology, abortions are slowly become more liberal an act and safer in medical risks. But what if the child can feel the pain of being yanked out of it’s little nutshell and having his’s essence of life being suffocated out of him, and feeling every bit of discomfort and pain as the process begins? Does it make it any more disturbing that the matter of fact is? If abortion helps the unplanned woman to carry on with her life and aspirations, is it not akin to child sacrifice? We place a supposed ‘offering’ in exchange for a better life ahead, without this burden from influencing and determining how their lives shall go on.

Coming from a difficult-to-do family, where my parents are always behind their bills month in month out, I may even be tempted to opt for an abortion (should I face the choice of it) and not bring my child to a broken family. Yet, it is imperative to understand that just because this child does not have a say in this matter, it does not overshadow the fact that we do not have the moral audacity to commit such a bold choice. If a mother can choose to kill her own child, what more between you and I? Sure, they may be completely different arguments and examples, but it makes not one bit of difference to the point that I’m making.

Life is, beyond all its tiresome trials and tribulations, sufferings and torments, betrayals and backstabbings, a gift from God. That we’ve been carefully crafted for his purpose. Whether or not you believe in this, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that each and every life is precious, a sacred entity. And nobody but the very wielder of his own life (and the Author of his very breathe) can decide how he wants to go out. I never understood the gravity of this whole issue, until I came to realise that the act of child-making is a process of love. In what world does that love translate to killing one’s own flesh and blood?

Stitched

A life of my own,
I cannot bear to take.
The shame, though, I’m known,
Of the un-wed woman’s fate.

This child of mine conceived in sin,
Yet, it’s blood, the pure and the innocent.
To take its life away, I dare not dream.
For in my pain, you were significant.

My parents said to “see the Doctor”,
Yet, I knew, he was a murderer.
To take away the life of the unborn,
Forever and ever, the guilt I will mourn.

Of the death of my child, who never saw light.
I now champion pro-life, forever we shall fight.

Swarmed By The Light

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.” – Carl Gustav Jung

Lancelot is at his second session with Dr. Hans Eisenstein, a very renowned consulting psychiatrist. Dr. Eisenstein was hearing meticulously about Lancelot’s details of his supposed addiction, while noting down information on his clipboard – presumably of critical importance to this whole session.

Dr. Eisenstein: (lost at the sudden influx of information, he inquires his patient) Just. Hold on a second. What exactly is your probl– Pardon me, what is your predicament again?

Lancelot: (in bursting excitement) The spotlight of course! The honour, the glory, and the authority that one has under the stage light! It’s.. It’s as if they are genuinely listening to every minute action, every articulated word that spills out of your mouth – in reverance too!

Dr. Eisenstein: (continues jolting down some notes on his clipboard that resonates an archetypal Doctor): Right. Have you thought, even briefly, about what the cause of this concern stems from?

Lancelot: (placing his right hand on his chin, poised in genuine thought) Now that I think about it, hmm.. Nope. (shrugs shoulders) Maybe, Doctor, I’m just really infatuated with being in the presence of others. To be noticable and apparent to other people that.. I am here.

Dr. Eisenstein: (flipping back to last session’s notes, he begins his rounds of questioning – to delve deeper into understand dear Lancelot) Okay, that’s a good and honest response. It helps with this whole thing you’ve got going on. But first, let me just get back to last week’s session. Here, (briefly scrutinises messy scribblings, looks up at patient soonafter) it says that you haven’t been quite the exemplary student in your college – last in class performance for almost all your subjects, except for English Literature, American History and.. (in mild shock) English Drama class. Interesting.

Lancelot: (unfazed by his poor academics) I was never a role-model student as you can see for yourself Doctor (hands over transcript). The passion never developed for the Math and Sciences, sadly. And.. (pause) it was only in Drama class where I can be most vulnerable – there was an imaginary circle of uninhibited vulnerability. It was a room where everyone can be themselves, share their innermost struggles and not be judged for it. And in fact, (adds on quickly) it is in this circle where we encourage one another in our tribulations and keep ourselves accountable. (Continuing) When I stand on stage to act, I can become a different person. Adopt a new stage persona for myself and free myself from the shackles of reality.

Dr. Eisenstein: (intimidated, but also impressed) Oh. Wow. You know what, Lancelot? (Relaxes himself on his couch, places clipboard facedown) I don’t think the problem that you face is addiction. I believe this particular interest of yours is no more a hazard to you than it is of great benefits. If (hesitates to say, but does so eventually), you do find yourself some solace in this act, then by all means. As a lawfully certified Doctor, I say you’re free to go.

Life: A Platter Of Purpose

Forsaking and even avoiding demanding tasks is always alluring, especially when we are bogged down with other exasperating priorities in the different facets of our lives. But what if those demanding tasks are also part of our responsibilities as well? Do we relent and surrender, wimping our way out from situations that seem like their suffocating and shackling our lives endlessly? Or will we press on in persistence, and dive head-first into defeating the giants that are meant to impair and hinder our progress in life?

It does not take a double-PhD genius to understand the very laws of balance in simple terms. Should a person carry a significantly heavy weight on one side of his body, it will cause unnecessary stress and pain to the muscles supporting the burden, and in turn, possibly inflicting damage to the said person. In the same way, it is only natural to split the load up into smaller chunks or even spread it evenly across different areas of our lives. Sometimes, even important responsibilities have to be prioritised, and rational decisions have to be made to ensure a better well-being for yourself. But of course, everyone has a responsibility to watch out for their own limit – their personal threshold in carrying the pressure that they have undertaken. It is only wise to assume and shoulder as much responsibilities as one’s plate can withstand.

Nevertheless, it is the very essence of life that we undergo such high levels of commitment to our responsibilities, whatever they may be, and challenge ourselves in doing so much more and placing additional ‘thrills‘ and purpose on our platter. It does sound insanely irrational and somewhat stupid to intentionally torture ourselves when we can always choose to lead the easy life. But what is there in life, if there are no challenges to inspire us onward, and give us impetus to continually strive to be better versions of ourselves? What is there in life, if all we that we do is to live our mundane and easy life, and reject the notion of having a spirit of excellence in whatever that we do?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve never been purposeless.

Let Go

Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” – Rumi

I don’t know anything about you personally, but I’m sure we’ve been hit with situations where we just couldn’t let go of some things in our past. For some, we have a long severed friendship that just never had the opportunity to reconcile. Maybe an uncompromising relationship leading to a volley of painful heartbreaks? Or even the 15-year-old bolster that looks jaundiced from head to toe that you just can’t replace? We’ve definitely faced and experienced in the very least, a fraction of what I’m talking about. So what about it? Sometimes, it’s always better to just let it go.

I read about a story that’s pretty apt to this situation. You’ve been experiencing a stinging, but bearable, toothache for about a week now. You thought that it was just a one-time problem and that it’ll eventually go away. Surely, it did, for a short period, and the pain came back, this time even more potent, causing you headaches and distracting you away from the actual things in life that matters more. A visit to your local dentist revealed a certain kind of problem that requires the plucking and extraction of your tooth. So that it doesn’t proliferate its disease to the other healthy teeth in your mouth, and as well as to alleviate the persistent piercing pain that you’ve been experiencing and will be subjected to if you do not undertake the surgery. Though you understand that it is imperative to get rid of the ‘un-necessities’ in life such as this infected tooth, a small part of you just doesn’t feel comfortable enough to let go of the single, problematic tooth get extracted out and solve the problem. It’s funny how sometimes the hardest things in life to let go are actually the most detrimental to our well-being.

I personally found it extraordinarily difficult to let go of a period in my life – my O level year in secondary school. Coming from an N level background, I knew that the O level route will definitely be tougher than the one that I took. Excelling in the N level as one of the top scorers in my cohort, the rigour of the O level path didn’t prove to be much of a problem for me. I eventually scored pretty well for my O level prelims and could qualify for one of the upper-tier JCs with that score. Of course, like every foreshadowing of an empire’s fall, I’ve grown in my hubris, thinking that I’m better than the rest of my classmates and lost sight of my true competition. Furthermore, falling into the temptation and allure of online gaming at that point in time, I lost the very impetus that drove me to pursue O level – the very impetus that made me stand out from the rest of my class and batch mates. I received an average score for my O level, which I knew I didn’t deserve because of the little amount of work I placed, but at the same time I’m very grateful for the chance that I’ve been given. In the past years, I sometimes still think about how life could have been if I had scored better and went to a higher-tier JC for education. Of course, I don’t think about this in a negative manner anymore, but very thankful to God for this opportunity to have gone through what I went through and made the friends that I hold so dear now.

Sometimes the very essence of growing in maturity and experience is about choosing the battles to fight. A battle that one will always lose against is the battle against the past, for it inhibits your present self from achieving its maximum potential and debilitates your future from its rightful glory.